Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chile Verde

I first ate Chile Verde (pork chunks floating in a sauce made from tomatillos, garlic, and peppers) at a small roadside Mexican restaurant on a trip up the Oregon coast. My husband and I found it on the menu, and it was so good, we stopped at every Mom & Pop Mexican place we spotted thereafter.  This was then followed by a tomatillo blackout and two years in the Middle East. The taste of tomatillos has called me ever since. A recent foray at the Athens Farmers Market reminded me of this dish.

Making the tomatillo sauce and then storing it in the fridge or canning it, later makes for a quick, delicious dinner, assuming you're into mixing it all together and letting it simmer while you nibble guacamole and sip a brew.

Recipe Notes: I cooked this for a low-heat tolerant crowd, using a mix of mild to medium peppers roasted whole over a wood smoked grill. The skins were then peeled and the seeds removed (thanks Jane). The pork comes out fork tender and the sauce has a tangy bang with a smoky flavor. It was served with potatoes boiled whole, quartered, and fried with skins on because I have skinny kiddos that could use some fattening up, and they love rice and fried potatoes. I noted the adults happily added a side of potatoes to their plates and, let's face it, fried potatoes swirled in chili verde sauce is marvelous. A word of advice, wear gloves to handle jalapeños-- the oil burns your skin and is hard to stop (Aveda Eye Make up Remover proved helpful).

Chile Verde
Tomatillos, 2 pounds (2 quarts), peel, core, cut in half
Mild to Medium Peppers, 2 to 3
Jalapeño, 1 (more if you like heat) but wear gloves when handling
Garlic, 3 cloves, skin on
Water, 2 cups
Olive Oil, 4 Tbsp
Pork Shoulder Roast (bone in gives more broth flavor), 3 ½ to 4 lbs, trim excess fat, cube
Freshly ground black pepper
All-Purpose Flour, ~¾ cup
White Wine, ¼ cup
Cumin Seed, 1 tsp
Coriander, 1 tsp
White Onion, 1 large, chopped
Water or Chicken Stock, ~4 cups, enough to cover the meat
Salt, 1 tsp +
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, 5 to 6 cranks +
Fresh Cilantro, 1 bunch, rinsed, drained, & chopped

Remove papery husks from tomatillos, rinse, cut in half, and place cut side down on a baking sheet, lining it with foil for easier cleaning.

Place tomatillos, peppers, & garlic under broiler (or smoke them over a grill if you can) until the skins are browned or  lightly blackened, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for easier handling.

Remove blackened skins from peppers and garlic. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers. Use gloves to handle jalapeño(s).

Place tomatillos, skins included, into food processor or blender. Add peppers and garlic. Blend in small batches until smooth, adding water. The sauce can then be stored in the fridge until ready to use about a week or canned for longer storage (make quadruple the recipe or more if canning and follow instructions for canning). Recipe makes about 1 quart of sauce.

Season pork cubes generously with salt and pepper. Dreg in flour.

In a dutch oven over medium high heat, warm olive oil. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, brown pork cubes on all sides. Set aside.

Add cumin and coriander seeds and cook until spices begin to pop. Add chopped onions , reduce heat to medium low, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Deglaze the pan with wine, stirring the bottom to get up the bits. 

Add back the pork, tomatillo sauce, and enough water or stock to cover the meat about 2-inches. Season with salt and pepper. Bring boil over medium heat, reduce heat to low for a slight simmer until the pork is fork tender and sauce is thickened and reduced, 2 to 3 hours uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Adjust salt & pepper to taste . Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with rice, beans, monterrey jack cheese, and freshly made tortillas or fried potatoes.

Making chile verde

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